The painting’s structure
When starting to draft up the sketch I always divide the paper into thirds, this gives it a natural, balanced composition and is a guideline for roughly drawing the scene.
The La Verna sketch had an obvious religious sentiment too so I made use of the centre line to form a ragged cross motif within the painting. This runs through the rocks and into the bell tower, using the retaining wall on the right and the base of the monks quarters on the left for the cross piece.
Colouring La Verna
Being colour blind this part is always a challenge but with trees you’re always on a winner with green. There are of course only really four greens to work with, lemon, grass, olive, viridian, add a touch of blue or white to suit. This gives you a nice range from yellow green to a blue green.
The rocks were fun. Being a combination of greys does mean that I get to choose from pinks, purples and deep reds. You’ve got to love grey. So I decided that purple with its religious connotations was ideal. You can’t beat the occasional bit of symbolism.
The buildings were also difficult as they are so varied. In the end I went with pinks for the church, browns for the general buildings and a yellow for the large monks block.
One of the last things I always paint are the red roofs. Like the cherry on a Bakewell Tart, it’s the special piece of the painting for me and rounds the process off with a treat. I know Italian tiles are a blend of terracotta, ochre and oranges but for me these have a tendency to get confused by the greens, so the best solution is to make them a bright, stand out red. That way there is no confusion over whether they are tile or foliage.
The sky initially had a large cloud behind Monte Penne but I didn’t like it and over painted it. Instead I thought a fluffy white cloud on the right, symbolically representing good, nice things etc, while a grey storm cloud on the left for evil and badness.
The background is a faded representation of the hills, fields and woodlands of the area. This just to tie the whole composition together without over powering and losing the central image.
Look our for Part Four – finishing the painting.